Record-Courier staff report
The Kent State women's basketball team lost to Bowling Green 58-39 on Thursday night at the M.A.C. Center despite its best shooting performance of the season from beyond the 3-point arc.
Through the season's first 12 games, the Golden Flashes (3-10, 0-2) converted 26.9 percent of their 3-point tries. But led by Amber Dunlap, who converted 3-of-4 from long range, the Flashes connected on 54.5 percent of their 3s (6-for-11) against the Falcons, including 5-of-9 in the second half.
The hot shooting wasn't enough, however, as Bowling Green improved to 12-2 overall and 2-0 in Mid-American Conference play behind a double-double effort by Jill Stein. The Falcons senior finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds, while teammate Jillian Halfhill scored a game-high 15 points.
"I think the way we shot the ball from beyond the arc is a tribute to the time our players spent in the gym over the semester break," said Kent State coach Danielle O'Banion. "We've been very deliberate about making time to make shots every day. I'm happy to see our players see the return on the investment.
"But then I also thought Bowling Green did a nice job of being Bowling Green tonight. We did a good job of neutralizing some of the players we were worried the most about But when you have a senior point guard like Jillian Halfhill, who has been in a lot of big situations, that can be a difference-maker. She stepped up and made some big shots."
Larissa Lurken and Dunlap scored nine points each to lead Kent State. Lurken also finished with a team-high six rebounds.
Despite shooting just 31.6 percent from the field and turning the ball over 15 times in the first half, the Golden Flashes stayed within striking distance heading into the break. Kent State trailed 20-13 at halftime thanks in large part to a defense that held the Falcons to just 26.9-percent shooting from the field (7-for-26). Bowling Green was also 0-for-9 from 3-point range in the first 20 minutes.
It took the Flashes more than five minutes to score their first points of the night on a jumper by Cheylene Harper with 14:25 to play before halftime. But after a another mid-range jumper by Ashley Evans and a 3 by Lurken, Kent State worked its way into a 7-7 tie at the half's 11-minute mark.
Bowling Green finally connected on its first 3-pointer with just over 16 minutes remaining in the game on a shot from the left corner by Halfhill. The 3 ended an 0-for-11 start from the arc by BGSU and was part of a 15-0 run that helped the Falcons grab control of the game, building a 20-point lead in the first seven minutes following halftime.
"It is encouraging that we can and do compete generally every night, including against a Bowling Green team that is probably one of the top teams in our league," said O'Banion.
"It's important for us to understand that when we are playing at that level, our margin for error is slim to none. Tonight was encouraging in spots, but we are building, so we are continuing to teach and coach."